Aenictus turneri Forel

Shattuck, S. O., 2008, Review of the ant genus Aenictus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Australia with notes on A. ceylonicus (Mayr)., Zootaxa 1926, pp. 1-19 : 14-16

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Aenictus turneri Forel


Aenictus turneri Forel   HNS , rev. stat.

(Figs 7, 8, 21-23, 30)

Aenictus turneri Forel   HNS , 1900: 75 (junior synonym of A. ceylonicus   HNS by Wilson, 1964: 452; revised status as valid species). Aenictus deuqueti Crawley   HNS , 1923: 177 (junior synonym of A. turneri   HNS by Brown, 1952: 123).

Aenictus exiguus Clark   HNS , 1934: 21 (junior synonym of A. turneri   HNS by Brown, 1958: 5; junior synonym of A. ceylonicus   HNS by Wilson, 1964: 452; removed from synonym with A. ceylonicus   HNS , junior synonym of A. turneri   HNS ).

Types. Aenictus turneri   HNS : Worker syntypes from Mackay [approx. 21°09'S 149°11'E], Queensland ( GMNH, ANIC, examined) GoogleMaps . Aenictus deuqueti   HNS : Worker syntypes from Lismore [approx. 28°49'S 153°16'E], New South Wales (4 in AMSA; 3 in ANIC (Naumann et al. 1994) (examined); 7 in MVMA; 5 in MCZC; additional specimens probably in OXUM) GoogleMaps . Aenictus exiguus   HNS : Neotype worker from Lake Eacham National Park , 17°18'S 145°37'E GoogleMaps , Queensland, 25-27.ix.1972, R. W. Taylor, rainforest, ground strays ( ANIC32-023690 , non-types from same nest series, ANIC32-015780 ) (here designated) .

Diagnosis. Head capsule entirely smooth and essentially uniformly coloured; scape relatively short (SI <91); subpetiolar process large and rectangular. This species can be separated from the otherwise similar A. prolixus   HNS by the shorter scape, and from A. acerbus   HNS by its smaller size and largely smooth pronotum.

Worker Description. Mandible narrow to narrowly subtriangular (depending on number of denticles), with a large apical tooth, a smaller subapical tooth, 0-6 denticles and 1-2 basal teeth (always two basal teeth if denticles are absent); anterior clypeal border flat to convex, posterior of anterior surfaces of frontal lobes in full face view; parafrontal ridges absent; subpetiolar process subrectangular, sometimes with a posterior flange; head and pronotum entirely smooth (except the pronotal collar, which is punctate), mesopleuron and entire propodeum with weak, ill defined punctations under weak longitudinal rugae; body uniform yellow, mesosoma, petiole and postpetiole slightly darker.

Measurements. Worker (n = 37) - CI 83-94; HL 0.48-0.66; HW 0.40-0.61; MTL 0.29-0.59; ML 0.64- 1.00; SI 61-89; SL 0.25-0.49.

Material examined. Australia: New South Wales: Fowlers Gap Stn , 110km N Broken Hill (Davison,E.A.) ( ANIC) ; Glenugie State Forest , 15mi. S Grafton (Lowery,B.B.) ( ANIC) ; Lismore (collector unknown; Duequet,C.F.) ( ANIC) ; Mt. Nullum , Murwillumbah (Lowery,B.B.) ( ANIC) ; Murwillumbah (Lowery,B.B.) ( ANIC) ; Whiporie , 55km S Casino (York,A.) ( ANIC) ; Northern Territory: Annaburroo , CRC Clay Site B15 (Salvarani,A.) ( TERC) ; CSIRO Labs , Darwin (Salvarani,A.) ( TERC) ; Kakadu Nat. Park , Kapalga (Andersen,A.N.) ( TERC) ; Kakadu Nat. Park , Munmarlary (Andersen,A.N.) ( TERC) ; Kapalga , Kakadu Natl. Pk (Andersen,A.N.) ( ANIC) ; Kidman Sprs ., CRC Clay Site B4 (Salvarani,A.) ( TERC) ; OSS Study Site D6b, Ranger Lease (Andersen,A.N.) ( TERC) ; OSS Study Site N4, Ranger Lease (Andersen,A.N.) ( TERC);; Wildman Rsv. , High Gamba (Ryan,B.) ( TERC) ; Queensland: 5 km NbyE of Mt. Morgan (Taylor,R.W. & Weir,T.A.) ( ANIC) ; Adams Credition State Forest , Clarke Range , Mackay (collector unknown) ( TERC) ; Atherton Tableland , Yungaburra Region , Donaghys Corridor (Cutter,A. & King,J.) ( TERC) ; Backshall Farm , Malanda (Cutter,A.D.) ( ANIC) ; Bauple , State Forest 958 (House,A.P.N. & Vanderwoude,C.) ( TERC) ; Callide Ck. Mine , Biloela , Site 10 (Smith,A.) ( TERC) ; Cedar Creek , Tamborine Mt. (Brown,W.L.) ( ANIC) ; Cooloola (Plowman,K.) ( ANIC) ; Cooloola Natl. Pk. , Noosa R. (Greenslade,P.J.M.) ( ANIC) ; Cooloola , Chalambar (Greenslade,P.J.M.) ( ANIC) ; Crystal Cascades (collector unknown) ( TERC) ; Lake Eacham National Park (Taylor,R.W.) ( ANIC) ; Fraser Island , Bsh101 (Collier,P.) ( TERC) ; Fraser Island , CTF21 (Collier,P.) ( TERC) ; Mackay (collector unknown) ( ANIC) ; Malanda , Backshall Farm 1989 Planting (Cutter,A.D.) ( TERC) ; Prince Henry Drive , Toowoomba (Weatherill,L.) ( ANIC) ; Suburban Brisbane (Vanderwoude,C.) ( TERC) ; Townsville Field Training Area/Tabletop M2 RIPA (Woinarski,J.) ( TERC) ; Weipa , MRRP Study Site Pinus B (Andersen,A.N.) ( TERC) ; Western Australia: 146.8km SSE Newman (van Leeuwen,S. & Bromilow,R.N.) ( JDMC) ; Barrow Island (Callan,S. & Edwards,K.) ( JDMC) ; Mulga , NE Goldfields (Pringle,H.J.R.) ( TERC) .

Comments. This is the most common, widespread and southern-most species of Aenictus   HNS found in Australia. It occurs in a range of habitats from dry sclerophyll through Banksia shrublands and into rainforests. As with other species nests are in soil generally under rocks and logs on the ground. The queen has been collected only once, by B. B. Lowery, together with workers from Murwillumbah, NSW, in September, 1962. It is likely that at least some of the males here associated with A. hilli   HNS actually belong to this species.

Morphologically, the subpetiolar process is always subrectangular but shows considerable variation, even within single nest series. The anterior face is always angular and the posterior face a gentle to strong convexity, but the posterior angle often has a projecting flange that varies from short to long. This flange is visually striking and gives the appearance of a greater amount of variation that is actually present based on the underlying process. When the flange is present the posterior face tends to be more strongly convex while in cases where the flange is absent the posterior face is more weakly convex. Even though widespread, the outlying populations are similar to others. For example the Fowlers Gap specimens (from western New South Wales) are similar to those from Lismore (some 1100km to the east) in the shape of subpetiolar process and in having reduced sculpturing compared to others. There would appear to be minimal geographic differentiation within this species.

Aenictus turneri   HNS is similar to the Indonesian and Papua New Guinean species A. orientalis   HNS but differs in having the humeral angles of the pronotum rounded rather than weakly angular and in being essentially uniform in colour (the head and legs are noticeably lighter than the mesosoma in A. orientalis   HNS ).

A number of distinct species from the Philippines have been associated with A. turneri   HNS (when all were considered conspecific with A. ceylonicus   HNS ). Most of the Philippine species differ from A. turneri   HNS in having thin, weakly convex subpetiolar processes. However, one species (based on specimens from 18km E Naga City and Camp, Dumaguete, both in MCZC) has a projecting rectangular subpetiolar process similar to that found in A. turneri   HNS . This material differs from Australian specimens in having shorter legs (especially tibiae), a more block-like postpetiolar node (although there is some variation in Australian material) and a darker, more reddish and less yellowish mesosoma; it is here treated as belonging to a separate species. These Philippine specimens are very similar to the types of A. ceylonicus var. latro Forel   HNS , which is currently a junior synonym of A. ceylonicus   HNS .

Aenictus exiguus   HNS was last considered in detail by Brown (1958). Unfortunately he apparently did not have access to the type specimen, a holotype worker from Cairns district, Queensland, reported as being in the South Australian Museum. A search during this study failed to find this specimen and it is assumed to have been lost. The only clue to the identity of this species is Clark's (1934) illustration. In this figure the scape is short, as in A. turneri   HNS rather than long, as found in A. prolixus   HNS . Based on this it is assumed that Clark's exiguus   HNS is conspecific with A. turneri   HNS . To secure this treatment a neotype is designated, this specimen being considered conspecific with A. turneri   HNS .


Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Canberra City, CSIRO, Australian National Insect Collection


Australia, New South Wales, Sydney, Australian Museum


Australia, Victoria, Abbotsford, Museum of Victoria




United Kingdom, Oxford, University Museum of Natural History




Australia, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation